Sliding Toward Anarchy

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MONROVIA, Liberia: More than 60,000 people wandered the streets of Liberia's capital hungry and homeless on Sunday as the two-day cease-fire between government and rebel forces wavered and aid workers evacuated the seaside capital. Civilians scrambled for food and shelter as government soldiers continued shelling rebel army barracks and sporadic arms fire erupted downtown. The latest fighting, which threatens to unravel a tenous peace reached last year, points up the very deep fault lines in the country, says TIME's Andrew Purvis: "There are few recognized authorities. Militia men will steal your car, they will shoot you, they will do what they want depending on their mood." The reasons are largely economic: "Everyone is still armed and there is no revenue coming into the country. Authorities have been asking soldiers to just lay down their arms and try to find a way to sustain themselves in a peaceful society, but they do not have the resources. If you are a 20-year-old militia man who can get a television and a sack of grain in five minutes with your AK-47, why are you going to put it down?"